Bathroom Countertops Done!

By Kate Riley November 19, 2012

Slowly ever so slowly we’re a makin’ progress on that hall bathroom!  Last week I stained the wood countertops we routed with an ogee edge a couple of weeks ago.  The vessel sink and faucet arrived last week so Matt and I got to work taking the next steps to install the countertops and the sink/faucet combo. 

bathroom counter


We left off deciding whether to go gray or dark with the wood countertops and opted for the dark instead of the gray.  We tried both on some scraps of leftover countertop wood and ended up choosing the walnut stain for two reasons – first, the gray stain made this hard butcher block wood look more like cement from afar and less like wood and second, the staircase railing runs next to the bathroom and since it’s dark wood, the walnut made more sense for our home.  I think the gray would look really amazing on a softer wood but we opted for the dark for this project.

gray v dark stain


I’ve read a lot of great things about Waterlox so I ordered it online to use as the protective coat. I used the leftover wood conditioner and stain from our  X base table to give the countertops a dark stain.

three products


First things first though, I sanded the countertops to open up the wood’s “pores” – I followed the same basic steps I did when I sanded and restained this pedestal table.

good sanding


After it was sanded, I applied the wood conditioner, waited 20 minutes then the first coat of stain.  I applied three coats of Minwax ‘Special Walnut’ to the countertops over the course of a few days, allowing 8+ hours to dry between coats.  I prefer to use cheapo sponge brushes when staining rather than a good bristle brush to avoid cleaning.

three coats of special walnut


After the stain was dry, I added two coats of Waterlox to the wood.  This product came highly recommended by both readers and professionals, so I’m hoping it lives up to its guarantee of near waterproof wood!

waterlox finish


So far, it’s looking great.  We decided it’s best to add a 2-3 more coats of the Waterlox over the next week to make it extra resilient to water drops.

wood bathroom countertop


To drill the holes, we used a combination of our hole saw kit and boring drill bits to create the holes to set the faucet and drain. 

hole saw and boring drill bit 

The vessel sink/faucet/drain combo was special ordered from Home Depot.  The sample tile is from Lowes and if we decide it’s the one we want (and we’re 90% sure) then we’ll install it up the wall as the backsplash. 

bathroom counter


Next is the plumbing after the extra coats of Waterlox cure.  And then l need to paint the primed vanity… and install the glass wall tile… and locate the perfect mirror… and install the new sconces… and and and …  … such is the nature of home improvement, right?  :)  

Coming up next, the super colorful tree that we (me and the munchkins) made for the Michael’s Dream Tree Challenge… check back later today!




  1. Beautiful color choices…the walnut stain warms up the grey tones! Love it and can’t wait to see the finished look!

  2. Love it! So funny, I had previously commented on using Waterlox and when checking back, see that you succeeded in getting Waterlox and also ordered the same Kraus vessel sink and faucet for your guest bath that I did for mine (on top of my floating walnut Waterlox-ed shelf) – again, love it!

  3. You mean there are parts of your home that are not finished and perfect? ;D Love the walnut color way more than the gray. Very classic. Can’t wait to see the final reveal! No one will ever know that those are not custom cabinets.

    • Yep Jackie, so true! Nothing’s perfect around here, always a work in progress!

  4. Being a former interior designer, the darker wood is the perfect choice. Gray is now the trendy color which in some ways bothers me. To follow trends doesn’t express who you really are, then one would ask do you really know yourself? It seems many blogs these days follow those trends and are showing grays everywhere. Just as the hunter greens were big in the 90’s. Trends are merely money makers.

    I really admire that you left your attorney position and found ways to stay at home with your children. Yet, even those who have the advantage over so many who need the second income, still drive themselves to work.

    And why do we all find the need to have labels…titles..type them out and express them to the world? Is it truly the only way we define ourselves in this world today?

    Inovaters change the world, followers simply go with the trends, so it’s said….personally I love those who think beyond the trends and show real works of art in there homes. A humble opinion. Still love your blog.

  5. I saw some giant mirrors at Lowe’s this week for only $40. They have a nice dark frame. Maybe that will work for your bathroom?

  6. Looks great! I love wood countertops. I want them in my kitchen, so I hope you’ll let us know how the waterlox works. Can’t wait to see how it looks when you get the tiling finished.

  7. We are doing this same thing in our guest bath except we are using a pre-finished writing desk from Overstock.
    Having appied the Waterlox — do you think it would be needed on that type of surface also?

    Thanks for your advice!

  8. Great work. That faucet is way too cool. I hope you enjoy the new sink, and good luck with the rest of the remodel.

  9. Love, love, love. Timber tops are my fav and the glass tiles are sublime. May have to show this to hubby as inspiration for our ensuite. Can’t wait to see the full reveal.

  10. Looking so sweet! Using the wood conditioner is something more people need to know about. It makes cheaper, softer woods look more like hardwoods because it lets the stain take more evenly. It looks like you are using oak, so it wasn’t as crucial, but still good to see wood conditioner in use.

  11. Whatever you do, do NOT sand between coats of waterlox and if you do (since you’re using the lower VOC version) wait at least 24 hours before you recoat. I speak from an experience that almost made me lose my mind when I was using Waterlox on a new desktop and counter in my office.

    Lookin’ good!

  12. Really am loving the wood countertop with that gorg! tile. I always look forward to your finished projects……….. they are always beautiful!

  13. Kate, I love the tile! What is the color called? Also, they appear to be 2×4? Your blog is one of my favorite! Thank you for sharing all your great ideas! Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. stunning! we’ve been wanting a vanity style sink in our bathroom but maybe with a dresser instead… thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Hello
    just wondering what paint color you used on your vanity. I loved the look in your final post of this bathroom.

  16. We have used Waterlox on our kitchen maple counters and have found it to be a great finish. Be careful– do not let bleach, or even Oxiclean or any products with bleach near the counter. It will mar the finish. Also, just re-oiling does not seem to work. I sanded lightly on a blemish on our counter and re-oiled, and it is better, but still not perfect. Although you can re-oil the finish without sanding, if there is a flaw, it will still be there. You would have go to the raw wood again to get the finish to look perfect again. We have had our counters for 37 years, and I still like them and they look great. We used to use Watco Danish Oil.

  17. Kate, I saw your bathroom on Pinterest and it looks absolutely beautiful! I am considering using an IKEA butcher block countertop and was wondering how yours has held up in the bathroom as well as which IKEA countertop you used. I love the way yours took the dark stain and I know there are several options for different types of wood at IKEA, so I am hoping to buy the same one you used. Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. So far, it’s been really great Kim, the Waterlox is the key to keeping them looking good !

  19. Hi Kate, sent an email then saw above comment, could you let us know which counter you purchased and where you purchased the Waterlox? I’m having trouble finding someone who will ship even the VOC compliant version to CA. Thank you so much!

  20. Am a huge fan over wood countertops. Our friends in Galveston,TX, did this year’s ago and sealed with whatever they use to make wooden boats watertight/proof. They are stunning.
    WHERE did you source the wood? IKEA? If so, which item?
    I need it for my kitchen island as well as a possible bathroom redo.
    Thanks for all the helpful info…this looks terrific

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)